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CHANCELLOR George Osbourne unveiled measures to boost the income of pensioners and savers hit by low interest rates yesterday.

In his Budget speech, he made tax-free ISAs more generous and unveiled a million new pensioner bonds.

The amount people earn before tax will also go up by £500 to £10,500.

Swindon-based Nationwide Building Society is delighted that, having called on the Chancellor for several years to equalise the limits for cash ISAs and stocks and shares ISAs, it has finally been granted.

Chief executive Graham Beale said: “The announcement to bring the amount people can save in a cash ISA in line with the amount that can be invested in a stocks and shares ISA is great news for Britain’s savers. “We have been campaigning for this to happen for many years now and I am delighted that the Chancellor has responded to our calls.

“The impact this will have on people looking for ways to make the most of their savings will be huge, with people now able to put in £15,000 a year with much greater flexibility. “It will reduce confusion on the differing amounts which could be saved in cash and stocks and shares and, more importantly, give people more flexibility to earn tax-free interest.

“It is particularly good for first time homebuyers who can now save even more towards their deposit in a tax-efficient ISA.”

The Chancellor also froze petrol duty, cut bingo tax from 20 per cent to 10 per cent, froze Scotch whisky and cider duty and cut a further 1p from a pint of beer, but put the price of cigarettes up.

James Arkell, the chairman of Arkells Brewery, welcomed the news.

He said: “It is wonderful news for Arkells because we haven’t put up our wholesale prices for months and we shan’t have to do so now.”

Fiona Andrews, the director of Smokefree South West said: “We welcome the rise above inflation in tobacco prices. “However, given real concerns over hand rolled tobacco use in the south west, it is disappointing this Budget has not narrowed the gap between manufactured and hand rolled brands.

“Seven out of ten smokers want to quit. Saving hundreds or even thousands of pounds each year can be hugely motivating in today’s climate when household budgets are over-stretched.

“Smokers are five times more likely to quit successfully using our free and effective local Stop Smoking Services than by going cold turkey.”

David Andrews, the chief executive of VisitWiltshire, also welcomed the news that from April 1 2015, the tax on long-haul flights between 4,001 and 6,000 miles will be reduced by £14 a person, while those over 6,000 miles will be cut by £26.

“We’re delighted Air Passenger Duty is being reformed for long-haul destinations,” he said.

“Britain’s aviation taxes are one of the highest in the world, and this is a good first step in changing this. Reducing the cost of APD for key international markets such as China, India, Australia and New Zealand is great news in supporting VisitWiltshire’s efforts to attract more international visitors.

“After having hosted a group of 30 Chinese tour operators on a two-day visit to Wiltshire last weekend, a reduction in the cost of visiting Britain of up to £108 per Chinese visitor, or up to £432 for a family of four, is very good news.”

There was also an announcement within the Budget which scrapped VAT on fuel for air ambulance services.

Cheryl Johnson, head of fundraising and development at Wiltshire Air Ambulance, said: “The situation at the moment is our operating costs are paid largely by the police. They don’t pass that onto us.

“When we get our new helicopter and go it alone in early December this latest news will be an advantage for us.

“For our one helicopter we will expect to save between £10,000 and £15,000 a year, which is fantastic. That will be from when we go it alone.”